Former Rick Scott official in line for Pinellas-Pasco judgeship - Florida Politics

Former Rick Scott official in line for Pinellas-Pasco judgeship

Mary Thomas, the former top lawyer at the Department of Elder Affairs under Gov. Rick Scott, is on a list of finalists to become a Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge.

The 6th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) sent 11 names, including Thomas, to Scott last month to fill two vacancies created by the retirements of Mark I. Shames and John A. Schaefer.

Thomas, also a state government lawyer under former Gov. Charlie Crist, relocated to Pinellas County after spending years in the state capital.

Florida Bar records now show a Palm Harbor address. She works for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs under President Trump.

She ran unsuccessfully last year for the 2nd Congressional District in north Florida, which had been held by Democrat Gwen Graham but was redrawn after a redistricting challenge. Graham bowed out of a second term and now is running for governor.

Panama City urological surgeon Neal Dunn bested Thomas and another candidate in the Republican primary, then went on to win the now GOP-leaning district.

Others the JNC recommended to Scott include Pinellas attorney Brian Battaglia, who lost a 2014 bid to become circuit judge to Kimberly Sharpe; and Dustin Anderson, a Tarpon Springs attorney also running for circuit judge in 2018.

Scott still has more than a month to decide who he will select. The other candidates are Ronald GregoryNathaniel B. Kidder, Christopher LaBruzzoKelly McKnightNancy MeyerMatthew PerryFrederick Pollack and Dorothy Vaccaro.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

1 Comment

  1. Residents of Pinellas and Pasco Counties have a chance to tell Gov. Scott to appoint a qualified member of the Bar or Bench to the open seat on the Circuit Court and must do so. Sadly, Mary Thomas fancies herself as that but a review of her work history belies that claim. You will see that she has held political appointee positions, and primarily administrative, not truly legal (at least not trial) ones. In fact, both she and her husband now hold politically appointed positions in Washington, perhaps due to their involvement in the most recent Presidential campaign. You’ll also see that she has been at her most recent job for a very short time and that it, too, is an administrative one The public sector political job-hopping and lack of specific job experience are factors that you must consider, especially in a jurist. If selected as a judge, how long will she remain until the next “better” opportunity arises? Ms. Thomas is not qualified to serve as a trial court judge. Urge Gov. Scott to select someone who is.

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